An Al-EkhbariyaTV crew was kidnapped by the Free Syrian Army when filming the clashes taking place in Al-Tal.
A group of fighters has entrenched itself in this small city which was immediately abandoned by the population. The national army moved in to surround the area, ordering the combatants to lay down their arms.
The Free Syrian Army announced several times the release of the Al-EkhbariyaTV team, including journalist Yara Saleh. Finally, it communicated its demands through a video.
To be noted:
The FSA officer in Al-Tal is reading a text not written by him.
The FSA does not consider the kidnapped journalists as "hostages", but as "guests." It specifies, however, that they are serving as human shields (to prevent the national army from bombing or attacking) and that their safe return would be jeopardized if the FSA’s demands are not met.
The FSA presents itself as an Islamist organization. (1) The statement is preceded by a Koranic verse; (2) it contains an implicit reference to Islam; (3) the negotiator is referred to as "brother"; (4) while Islam prohibits the taking of women and children as hostages, journalist Yara Saleh is being held and forced to wear a veil.
The FSA says that civilians are being bombarded by the regular army from which it is trying to protect them, while stating at the same time that they have actually fled the city. Then it calls for the removal of check points allegedly to allow people to return, whereas in reality it is to permit its fighters to escape.
Strikingly, for the first time since the outbreak of the crisis, the FSA has named as negotiator a contact in Saudi Arabia. This is an attempt to camouflage that its orders come from the NATO headquarters in Incirlik. On this air base in southwestern Turkey, the U.S., France and Turkey are working hand in hand. The FSA prefers to acknowledge its lack of independence and present itself as an organization run by the Saudis rather than unveiling its ties with Paris. With a touch of unintentional humor, the officer reading the paper ends with "Long live independent Syria!."
To obtain the release of Yara al Saleh-Abbas and her team, write to the real sponsors of the FSA at the Elysée presidential palace, "Mr. Hollande, stop supporting terrorism! Free Yara!"